Dear Parishioners arid Friends of Old St. Mark
We are met this day on the happy occasion of planting the true vine into what is now a mere pile of concrete brick and stone in order that it may be transformed into a beautiful cathedral of Christian Action.
It is indeed appropriate that these words of Jesus are the Gospel for Saint Mark the Evangelists Day celebrated by the Christian Church on April 2 of each year and whose name we bear as a Lutheran congregation.
With such infusion of spirit, it is that we meet today not merely as the result of a dream come true, but as an answer to our prayers for Christian as quoted. “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will aid it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples.” With such precious promises, may I again remind you that it is not just a matter of circumstance but a result of promise that we see this cathedral now taking form and about to rise before us now completed.
You will note that I have used the word cathedral and that is just the word I mean because that ward not only denotes beauty, majesty and power — or — the church of the bishop in those churches under that type of government but something out of the ordinary as to size, use or location in the case of the other types of churches not under bishopric control.
May I speak to these of us, and I was one who for years cherished that lovely dream, and I can now see that is all it was and not a vision of Christian action, to leave this sacred spot, so beautifully described in Hymn #23S for those who wish to turn to it Quote the Hymn to build our cathedral of Lutheranism, so that we might be looked up to as having the finest Lutheran Church building in this area. Well, that was not to be, Something better was in store for us. The church today need not measure its power and strength in buildings alone, but in its endeavor to follow the command of preaching and teaching the Word to all people.
Perhaps I should tell you now that I am not speaking as the lay head of the Christian Education work of the parish to you this morning so as to make you feel that this cathedral is to be but a cathedral of Christian Education solely not so, it is truly a cathedral of Christian action.
To those of you unfamiliar with the present plans - arrived at after much prayer and thought and resultant necessary delay, I would say that they have been made to meet a seven day week program of a busy city parish and one willing and eager to grow and serve.
The first floor you will recall, is to contain the various classrooms for the Nursery Roll, Nursery Class and Beginners Dept. of the children’s section of the church school and a large social hall for week day gatherings for Christian Fellowship to prevail, with a stage for presentation of pageantry, for was it not in the church that the theater was born, and which same room will be used on Sundays for the Senior and Young Peoples Dept. of the Church School. It is hardly necessary to mention that a large commodious kitchen will also be on this floor adjacent to the social room and will be kept intact as a kitchen to be used whenever needed and for that purpose - alone not as a classroom.
The second floor is to contain a ladies parlor, for the various women’s organization gatherings. The Primary Dept., the Junior Dept. and the Intermediate Dept with their various individual class rooms, but alas, it is here that we again must rely on our text and ask f or Christian patience because in building our cathedral which, as you can see, is to contain nothing but the bare necessities for Christian action, it was found that the entire structure could be built with what money we had and hoped to raise, from those not as yet contacted, but that it would in addition thereto require an additional $l0,000 as of Oct. 1, to finish and make useable the entire second floor. Perhaps more now in the day of rising prices, Christian patience has born fruit in the past and surely will in the future.
The third floor as formerly is to be used as the living quarters of the consecrated head of Christian Education in the parish and known and respected by us as the parish deaconess and who is not a possession of the church school alone, but a part and parcel of the entire congregation.
From this brief resume you can readily see that from the teaching in the various church schools, to the sewing of choir vestments, or garments for the needy, the serving of food to the hungry or a feast for our inner man, the practice of Christian fellowship through the medium of games or dancing (just for fellowship and not for profit) classes for various kinds of instruction for all ages, church handcraft, Christian stewardship, evangelism, handcraft, scouting, that our cathedral is planned for and truly should. be a real cathedral of Christian action, a proving ground for the great commandments of Love to God and Love to our fellow man.
You must needs know by this tine, that the cathedral of action can only be possible and is but an auxiliary of The Body of Christ and known to us as the Church. The Church is our goal and does it seem to you impossible that as our program of action is put into motion that we will work away from instead of toward it. As Lutherans, such should not be the case, but indeed a means to strengthen and fortify the Church with leaders who can carry on no matter what may come. May I ask you to think about the temple in and Old Testament and the various centers of teaching in the new and the many old cathedrals of gone and present days.
All were centers of worship, but we all know we cannot worship without knowing whom or what we worship, The home in the past supplied that knowledge, but it does not today — neither does the school — but the church has had to call into action the church school and the other Christian education agencies so that we might understand how we are to live as Christians and then practice what we understand.
Are you not thankful that you are in reality erecting a cathedral which will never be finished but always erecting more living cathedrals to go in and out serving there true Bishop of souls — here in Williamsport, in our state, in our nation and in the world and their fellowmen,
Truly is not this the cathedral you had hoped for her at Saint Mark’s?
Does not your cathedral of action become beautiful, majestic and powerful even more so than any you have ever seen or read about or could have built with any amount of money of just concrete, brick and stone without the infusion of the spirit in your prayers for vision and then in your plans and now in this your corner stone of St. Mark’s cathedral of Christian action blessed this 26th day of November, 1939.
Will it not lead to a St Mark’s cathedral of Christian worship in the years and generations to come?
Yes by the help of God through Christ Jesus.